The news came down this morning that De'Anthony Thomas is out of his walking boot but his status is still uncertain for Washington. While his presence would be a great help against an improved Husky team, he isn't necessary for the Ducks to come out of Seattle with their sixth win of the year and tenth in a row against Washington. While Washington has improved this year and are looking at their highest ranking in years, what sets Oregon apart from the Huskies is depth and discipline. The way Oregon gets by the Huskies this year is the same way they have beaten them for the past few years, consistent pressure and stressing of the defense.
The Huskies have brought out their new offense which appears to be a light version of the Oregon offense. Huskies players and coaches may contend that practicing against a spread offense prepares them for playing against the Ducks, it simply doesn't prepare for Oregon's constant pace and pressure.
Stressing Washington's defense can be summed up by a single play last season and it's described as the "Here's a touchdown," play. In the first quarter, the Ducks had started to turn up the pace on the Huskies and were up by a single score. From the 21 yard line, the Ducks sent Keanon Lowe on a streak route to the end zone. The corner back was looking into the backfield and Lowe went by him and while the corner was looking Mariota found Lowe in the end zone all by himself for a touchdown.
Don't forget, Washington has improved and are certainly likely to keep the game close for longer than they have the last couple seasons. They have a strong defensive line, anchored by Danny Shelton. Oregon has shown trouble running the ball inside to this point in the year and those issues may continue. However, expect Oregon to be faster to the edges and getting the ball out and getting the offense moving. Shaq Thompson at line backer and a defensive backfield which held Stanford to only 100 yards passing a week ago.
The Huskies may have taken Stanford to the brink last week which is a cause for consternation, but it is important to remember that the Huskies beat the Cardinal a year ago and still found themselves on the wrong side of dominance against Oregon.
Look for Oregon to start the game with the pass to open up the run, especially if De'Anthony Thomas isn't 100%. Receivers Josh Huff and Bralon Addison are going to need to step up and make plays to keep the offense rolling and keep a rowdy Husky Stadium crowd sitting on their hands. The departure of Colt Lyerla; while it may not look big on paper, will be felt this game if Johnny Mundt and Pharaoh Brown don't perform well. Last year, Lyerla was the game's leading receiver with 71 yards and two scores. There are yards to be had in the TE position, Mundt and Brown need to be solid here.
While the Cardinal squeaked by the Huskies, Ty Montgomery torched UW from the opening kick to the final whistle, as he led the Cardinal in receiving and ran back a kick for a touchdown. The Huskies did not look strong on their kick coverage and against a team like Oregon, that will hurt you.